RETIREMENT AND CHESS
It tastes like ham and cheese or donuts with coffee. It is very much peach and cream, quiet and blue, faith and reason. It requires concentration, a lot of anticipation, thrilling moments, handful of suspense and bucketful of surprises. This is where blunder means sloppiness, carelessness and inordinate negligence. There is also brilliancy. Chess which originated in India before the 7th century was the most enjoyable mindsport civilized man could embrace however in a fleeting manner rivaled by FB though. No other being outside of his specie can play it well except latter day computers! It is a relaxing activity. And the beauty of every game is not in winning as I learned lately but in losing.
A lot of my friends, peers and colleagues are chess players and they are not the ordinary kind. They play like ranking gamers if not as grandmasters. They are oftentimes ahead of five moves than the regular competitor. And they can easily “check-mate” anyone without giving them the decency of resigning. They are that shrewd when it comes to playing chess. They are unforgiving, almost cruel and less generous.
Chess has been a passion for them, a time filler, an ice breaker, a mood qualifier, an appetizer. Every figment of reality is viewed as if it is a piece of woodwork on the chessboard. And they allocate a period in a day to sharpen their moves. That spells a lot of discipline, a lot of self-control, a lot of sacrifices. In every game of chess, it is impossible to win without gambit, scheme, maneuver and most of all without sacrificing. One learns the art of surrendering with poise more than winning with confidence.
During my high school years, I was almost on top of the chess totem pole in our parish church where I was an acolyte. Great chess players, most of them seminarians, would find time challenging everyone in the convent and that was where I started to earn my spur. I could beat the oldest of them, the elder parish priest himself including his retinue of chess aficionados. The Chess Invitational in the parish did not push through because they assigned me as screener. Participants must pass through me. Unfortunately, nobody has beaten me even if I am “queen less.” That was the time when the religious almost banned chess in the abbey. I became a pariah. No one was playing chess out in the open as long as I was around. I was left holding an empty bag. With no one to play with, my chess acumen and interest waned.
Like any sports activity without practice the player becomes dull and rusted. And I underwent such an unfortunate predilection. I have almost forgotten the routine. Government service that stretched for almost four decades virtually removed the predator in all my chess moves. Worst, there are even programs in computers which one could use in competing and which are unforgiving. Before, the books would show the way and manually, the player would copy the fight on his chessboard. Now, there is a Grandmaster edition which anyone can play with to sharpen his moves.
And as soon as I retired, I plucked out the program from my file and went ahead to challenge a built-in ranking player. I was a bit sloppy at first but as soon as our pieces are colliding on the board, the beast in me was slowly manifesting. I won the game! The first in several years since I played really serious was predated during my juvenile years yet. Old and without practice, I cannot believe that I won.
And then, with much time and no stress related work, I again played. Well, the machine must have sensed my moves and probably studied my various strategies. The second game I lost. The third came and the fourth, the fifth and the sixth, all of which I lost. It is not losing through weak moves, I lost because of the superior moves of the program!
It is here that I realized that it is more fulfilling to lose than win. My threshold of pain increased. My patience extended. My forbearance stretched out. And it is in losing that the mind is whipped in adrenaline strengthening recall and making the memory robust with lessons.
That is correct; as I play chess, while expecting to win, I am also surely excited enough to lose. Right now, I appreciate and get much cerebral inspiration in losing.